Sully's surge: Owatonna senior Jay Sullivan peaking at right time
For Owatonna senior Jay Sullivan, basketball has been an integral part of his life and prep sports career.
Now, Sullivan and the Owatonna High School boys basketball team are gearing up to put together a run in the upcoming Section 1-AAAA tournament.
The senior point guard has been a key component to Owatonna’s success in the second half of the season, averaging nearly 20 points for per game, to include a 30-point performance on senior night against Mankato West last Friday.
“I stopped thinking so much about the game and just started playing because I’ve played the game for so long,” he said about his play in the second half of the season. “I started to think differently, just go out and have fun each night and it’s just helped with my scoring and overall play; Just being care free.”
Head coach Josh Williams noted that the recent surge is his point guard’s offensive output has been a pleasant surprise, saying that coming through the system, Sullivan – who was recently named to the Big Nine’s All-Conference team – was known for being a pass-first type of player.
“We’ve been looking for that nice compliment in addition to Kubista this year; And certain guys in certain games. (Nolan) Malo would have his game, Jason (Williamson) would have his game and A.J. (Andrew Jackson), but no one consistently,” he added. “In the second half of the season, Jay has really consistently been that second scorer and we get that plus some of those other guys contributing double digits.”
Much of the reason for Sullivan’s success this season has been his ability to refine the different ways he can score and his impeccable vision of the floor. These traits have some seeing Utah Jazz great John Stockton when watching the senior Husky. It has his coach seeing former NBA point guard Steve Nash. For Sullivan, his game is modeled after a star from Cleveland not named LeBron James.
"I love Kyrie Irving," he added. "I love watching his game and Tyler Ulis too, especially last year when he was at Kentucky. Those are probably the two biggest guys I watch and try to model my game after."
Whether it’s driving in the lane, pulling up for a quick jump-shot or simply driving just to kick it out to a waiting teammate, the all-round refinement as led Sullivan to being second on the team in points and assists.
Aside from his ability to set not only himself up to score, but his teammates as well, Sullivan believes that his biggest attribute for the team’s success this season is his ability to be the floor leader, especially with the amount of underclassmen the Huskies can play with any given night.
As for his coach, Williams chuckled before saying that his senior point guard brings swagger and confidence to the locker room.
“He’s a great kid. Very intelligent young man who’s just been a very good natural leader,” he added. “He just plays with a sense of enjoyment to the game. He has fun when he’s playing, he has fun in the locker room and he has just a great personality. He just has a love for the game of basketball.”
While Sullivan ended the interview by picking ULCA to win the national title because he enjoys watching Lonzo Ball, Owatonna fans are hoping that Sullivan can continued his scoring surge and guide the fifth-seeded Huskies win over Lakeville South Wednesday night.